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Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues United States And Canada Tier II – 2024 Edition

I want to remind all readers that this series of articles rating the junior hockey leagues in North America is based upon independent opinions and analysis of scouts throughout the United States and Canada.

This rating is based upon the 2023-2024 season and nothing more. The criteria that was used in rating these leagues, was how do teams within the leagues compare when developing players who move on to the NHL, NCAA, Canadian University, the USHL and Major Junior hockey programs. The size of the league as in number of teams was also taken into account for depth of player talent throughout the league.

Again this is not a historical account of each league but a rating based upon last season alone. We hope this series of articles is informative and promotes a healthy discussion.

1. The NAHL

The NAHL continues to lead in North America.  With more than 200 NCAA D1, and D3 commitments annually, the NAHL sets itself apart by having an unlimited number of 20 yr old players, who represent the best, direct junior to college development path in the world.

2 NCDC

The NCDC in very short order has become a powerhouse of NCAA development. With 45 NCAA D1 commitments and 113 NCAA D2 and D3 commitments, the NCDC is right on the heels of the NAHL. With limited 20 yr old player roster spots, the NCDC is making things happen for younger players as well as older ones. The addition of three powerhouse NCAA D3 development teams from the EHL will only continue to elevate the commitment numbers.

3. BCHL

The BCHL is a very good league. It was helped this year by the addition of five very strong teams from the AJHL. That help though was only good enough to get them to #3 this year, and the number of NCAA D1 commitments numbered 48, while D3 and Canadian University commitments were minimal. The BCHL marketing of NCAA commitments continues to be misleading, and not representative of actual commitments made from players while playing in the league.

4. AJHL

The AJHL had a number of NCAA D1 commitments as well as D3. They withstood the tests of defections, and worked very hard to continue their player promotion campaign. 2024-2025 will see the addition of one new team and should develop more players to move up.

5. OJHL

The OJHL had a resurgance in 2023-2024. Winning a National Championship is good for scouting and good for commitments. The OJHL made the most of things, and experienced a nice bounce. The OJHL has taken a more agressive approach to player marketing, and this should continue to pay dividends.

6 SJHL

The SJHL is a bit of an outpost. Scouts simply are not going as often as they did before COVID. Competiion is great, but scouting is down. The league could do a lot more to increase scouting and player marketing to boost its commitment numbers.

7. Manitoba Junior Hockey League

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League continues to be a solid league. But like the SJHL, is off the beaten track and not seeing the scouting it once had.

8. NOJHL

The NOJHL, is probably the most under rated of Canadian Junior A leagues. A lack of marketing its teams, and failure to promote its achievements, hold the league back from becoming better. Few would know how many NCAA players and Major Junior players the league is developing and it took talking to coaches and doing a lot of research for TJHN to verify these promotions. The league could do a lot more to showcase itself and its achievements.

9. CCHL

The CCHL has maintained its development protocols over the last few seasons. Steady development of primarily Ontario and Ottawa based players is its calling card. Its small travel footprint make it attracive to scouts, and make it easy on players. Still, like most leagues in the CJHL, they do not do enough marketing of themselves or its players.

10. SIJHL

The SIJHL improved in 2023-2024. They actually have NCAA D1 and D3 scouts regularly attending games, and they did have a D1 commitment. Do not sleep on the SIJHL potential. This is a league to watch. As old guard coaches depart and new progressive thinking leadership takes over teams, good things can happen.

11. Maritime Junior Hockey League

The Maritimes is a high quality league for developing QMJHL talent, and for taking former QMJHL players who have aged out of those programs. It offers a high level of play, and great QMJHL scouting. Not really seen as an NCAA development league, but some scouting does take place.

12. GMHL

The GMHL makes its debut on the listing due to several players moving on to higher levels of Canadian University hockey and pro hockey in Europe. A NAHL tender didnt hurt them either. Watch the GMHL transforming into something most wouldnt have believed it could just a few years ago. As non Hockey Canada leagues become more attractive to players, the GMHL was the first and they are making big strides to become a lot more for players.

13. KIJHL

A very good league, that is not well scouted. After one year at Tier 2, they still have a lot to learn to move players up. Marketing is minimal, and players from North America simply do not know much about the league. The proposed replacement for the BCHL has a lot to learn about marketing itself and its players. The confusion created by the alleged “Tier I” Junior A designation is nonsensical.

14. Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League

The QJAAAL is the weakest CJHL league in Canada. It is simply not competitive compared to the rest.

15. PJHL

With one year of Tier 2 under their belt, it remains to be seen if the league can raise its level of play, and get on the scouting radar. Player promotion is simply non existant, and few know anything about the league. The confusion created by the alleged “Tier I” Junior A designation is nonsensical.

16. CAJHL

The CAJHL makes its first appearence after having a few players move up to University hockey, and a few more head to Europe on minor pro deals. Western Canada is the “wild west” right now, but the CAJHL is looking to become a stabilizing force that players can rely on to work for them.

Next week we will tackle Tier III hockey.

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